Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Dr. Arthur Spohn: Surgeon, Inventor and Texas Medical Pioneer ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour *Excerpt*

DR. ARTHUR SPOHN: Surgeon, Inventor, and Texas Medical Pioneer

Genre: Non-Fiction / Medical / Texas History / Biography
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 352 pages. 
78 b&w photos. Map. 4 Appendices. Index.

In this first comprehensive biography of Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn, authors Jane Clements Monday, Frances Brannen Vick, and Charles W. Monday Jr., MD, illuminate the remarkable nineteenth-century story of a trailblazing physician who helped to modernize the practice of medicine in Texas.
Arthur Spohn was unusually innovative for the time and exceptionally dedicated to improving medical care. Among his many surgical innovations was the development of a specialized tourniquet for “bloodless operations” that was later adopted as a field instrument by militaries throughout the world. To this day, he holds the world record for the removal of the largest tumor—328 pounds—from a patient who fully recovered.
Recognizing the need for modern medical care in South Texas, Spohn, with the help of Alice King, raised funds to open the first hospital in Corpus Christi. Today, his name and institutional legacy live on in the region through the Christus Spohn Health System, the largest hospital system in South Texas. This biography of a medical pioneer recreates for readers the medical, regional, and family worlds in which Spohn moved, making it an important contribution not only to the history of South Texas but also to the history of modern medicine.


Excerpt from the introduction by Kenneth L. Mattox, MD
Distinguished Service Professor
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine
Chief of Staff and Surgeon-in-Chief
Ben Taub Hospital Emergency Center and Trauma Center

In 1868, when a twenty-three-year-old Dr. A. E. Spohn became a public health officer in Corpus Christi, there were no hospitals as we know them, no antibiotics, no laboratory tests to assist in diagnosis, no X-rays, and a poor understanding of bacteriology or virology. Immunology and vaccinations were not yet developed. Perhaps more than the scourges of war, fights, raids, and interpersonal violence, infectious diseases were the most common causes of death. Particularly deadly were yellow fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox, cholera, rabies, and tuberculosis. Although some symptomatic treatments were often tried, quarantining was the general approach. Throughout this book, continuing development in combating infectious diseases is traced. Another malady faced by the Texans was the venomous snakebite, particularly that of the western rattlesnake. Again, this book follows new approaches added by Dr. Spohn to treatment of snakebites. Although his skills, interest, and aptitude eventually made Dr. Spohn an administrator and surgeon, this book is an important documentation of the pre-antibiotic and early vaccine era of the treatment of infectious disease.

During the life of Dr. Spohn, the large port cities of the East and West Coasts were well known around the world. The midwestern cities of Chicago and Milwaukee were population centers. In Texas, by 1900 the port city of Galveston was the largest Gulf Coast city in the South, a statistic changed by the unnamed hurricane to hit the city that year. Land routes to the west went through San Antonio and El Paso, or farther north, to routes through the Rocky Mountains. Corpus Christi had fewer than twenty-five hundred citizens when Dr. Spohn settled there. Citizens during his lifetime were often killed by epidemics of infectious disease. Corpus Christi was not the easy port that New Orleans, Mobile, and Galveston were. Corpus Christi was literally a bit off the beaten path. This book becomes a social registry as well as a history of the governmental and cultural development of Corpus Christi and will, in the future, serve as a foundation for the history of this unique city of Texas for the time that Dr. Spohn was one of its principal citizens.

This is a book about organization, leadership, planning, and management. Although the skills of physicians, soldiers, ranchers, farmers, and sailors are repeatedly emphasized throughout, one of the most fascinating aspects of this writing is the integration of the planning and management efforts of a relatively few persons in taming and developing this land and its people. It is a lesson in successful leadership and strategic planning. As has often been the case in changing the course of a society, a relatively few strong and intuitive individuals are part of that effort, and their collective focus and energy are in harmony with each other. This book very clearly demonstrates how a relatively few persons in and around Corpus Christi shaped the course of Texas and even the continuing development of the United States.

Dr. Arthur Spohn received his medical and surgical education prior to the Flexner report. Medical school education was non-standardized. Curriculum was variable from school to school, and the curriculum and technical training to be a surgeon were nonexistent in the United States. Yet, a focused and driven Dr. Spohn received some of the finest medical and surgical training from medical educators in Canada, Michigan, New York, and even Europe. He was an apprentice under some of the most famous names of his time and in some of the best hospitals in the Western Hemisphere. He read extensively and did research, as well as developed surgical instruments. By the end of his career, the American College of Surgeons, Texas Surgical Society, and even the standardization of undergraduate medical education, as well as the beginnings of specialty boards, were developing. Dr. Spohn had the genome of a surgeon but could have received certification in any one of several specialties of medicine, including public health, infectious disease, general surgery, emergency medicine, military medicine, trauma, family practice, toxicology, and obstetrics and gynecology. He pursued both basic education and technical skill sets in each of these areas. This book shows the movement from untamed rural crude medicine in the United States to a structured and progressively evidence-based environment.

Dr. Spohn was an innovator and created adaptations to aid his surgical practice. Throughout this book, those inventions and ideas are recorded. He developed a concept of “staged” operations to make the ultimate outcome better and safer. He devised treatments that must be classified as providing immunotherapy for various conditions. He created a tourniquet to be used in the operating room to reduce blood loss. He defended his invention when others tried to claim it as their own, and he progressively made improvements to this invention and faithfully reported it at meetings and in the literature. Dr. Spohn was a Renaissance man of his time. The authors have painstakingly researched many resources, from newspapers to personal letters and telegrams, to community, church, and school records. The referencing of these resource documents is presented in detail. Although written to memorialize the life of Dr. Arthur E. Spohn, this is a book of great interest to many whose interest in history involves many previously described areas.


The chapters in the book are mesmerizing...the photographs in the book are priceless and probably cannot be seen by the general public except in this book. This is much more than a biography of Dr. Spohn and his medical triumphs. It is a book about life in South Texas from 1865 to the 1920s and beyond. Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn was part of that history and his contributions to medicine and the development of South Texas have guaranteed his legacy for years to come. This book is the proof.
-- Dr. Manuel Flores, Texana Reads
This is no dry medical text. Even if you have little interest in the medical field, you'll be astonished at the life of this accomplished physician and surgeon. 
-- Allison Ehrlich, Corpus Christi Caller Times

JANE CLEMENTS MONDAY is the author of numerous books and coauthor, with Frances Brannen Vick, of award-winning Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy and Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty. She has served as chair of the Texas State University System Board of Regents and mayor of Huntsville, Texas. She resides in Huntsville. 

FRANCES BRANNEN VICK is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Petra’s Legacy and Letters to Alice. She founded E-Heart Press and cofounded the University of North Texas Press. Vick has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. She resides in Dallas. 

Scrapbook Page
Guest Post
Guest Post

   blog tour services provided by

1 comment: